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Washington Nationals' 2016 Bullpen: How will Mike Rizzo upgrade the relief corps?

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Brad Boxberger? Aroldis Chapman? Ken Giles? Are any of the three potential targets for the Washington Nationals this winter as they attempt to upgrade the bullpen that was an issue in 2015. Will the Nats deal either Jonathan Papelbon or Drew Storen?

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ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick wrote on Twitter recently about the Washington Nationals being one of several teams interested in Tampa Bay Rays' relievers Brad Boxberger and Jack McGee:

Marc Topkin, of the Tampa Bay Times, wrote recently that interest in the relievers was "predictably high", though the Rays' motivation to deal either was less so considering the duo's relative affordability.

"They're both under contract and unless something happens where we get a real baseball deal to move one of them they're going to be in the back end of the bullpen, but we still need to upgrade the bullpen." -Mike Rizzo on the potential of dealing Papelbon on Storen this winter

McGee, 29, who posted a 2.41 ERA, a 2.33 FIP, eight walks (1.93 BB/9) and 48 Ks (11.57 K/9) in 37 ⅓ IP last season, is, "... due around $5 million via arbitration," and Boxberger, who saved an American League-leading 41 games in 2015 while posting a 3.71 ERA, a 4.26 FIP, 32 walks (4.57 BB/9) and 74 Ks (10.57 K/9) in 63 innings is, "... a pre-arb bargain of $530,000 or so. But that changes in 2017, when Boxberger becomes arb eligible and McGee gets a hefty raise in his last year before free agency."

A relatively young, affordable and controllable reliever? No wonder there are rumors of interest on the Nationals' part since that sounds like GM Mike Rizzo's M.O.

"Realistically, it will come down to the offer," Topkin writes, "and it's an interesting conversation on which would bring more back. If the Rays are blown away, they could deal one now. If not, barring injury of course, the interest will be there in July, and again after this season."

ESPN.com's Jim Bowden, however, in an article on ten "big-name" players who could be dealt this winter, wrote on Friday that Tampa Bay is, "... determined to move Boxberger, and it will be a surprise if they don't trade him."

The Rays, he writes, "... think his trade value will never be higher and would love to deal him for a hitter."

Bowden lists the Nationals as one of the potential suitors for Boxberger, and mentions the Nats when discussing the markets for Cincinnati closer Aroldis Chapman and Philadelphia righty Ken Giles.

The Reds could consider trading Chapman if they, "... can get anything close to the return the Padres got from the [Boston] Red Sox for [Craig] Kimbrel," and, he adds that, "[w]ith so many contending teams looking for closers, the Phillies have to listen to offers as they continue to rebuild."

The Nationals, Bowden adds, could have a reliever to deal as well, since, as he sees it, "the Nationals and [Drew] Storen are a divorce waiting to happen," after the Nats went out and acquired, "Jonathan Papelbon from the Phillies at the trade deadline and relegated Storen to a setup role."

Storen reportedly requested a trade after the acquisition of Papelbon last July.

A change of scenery, Bowden notes, "would seem to be the best move for both Storen and the Nationals at this point."

Nats' GM Mike Rizzo was asked in an interview on the MLB Network's Hot Stove show on Friday about the possibility of dealing either Storen or Papelbon and making potential upgrades to the bullpen this winter.

"I think it's a point of focus for us," Rizzo said. "We need to upgrade the bullpen. We like [Papelbon] and [Storen] at the back end of the bullpen. They're both under contract and unless something happens where we get a real baseball deal to move one of them they're going to be in the back end of the bullpen, but we still need to upgrade the bullpen. We need to get deeper. We need to have a more veteran presence. We need to have a greater skill set to get out both right-handers and left-handers and we're going to be active in that market, be it the trade market or the free agent market, because we think it's a point of emphasis for us."